HOW TO BE HAPPY IN CHAINS Philippians 1:3-11 INTRODUCTION A. As Paul wrote Philippians he was imprisoned in chains in Rome (1:13) 1. He could have spent his time in self-pity and complaint - but he didn’t 2. Instead, he spent his time encouraging others: “Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4) B. You and I may not be physically bound, but most of us wear “chain” of varying sizes and lengths: 1. Failing health or a serious medical problem 2. An unhappy marriage or children who break our hearts 3. Job-related stresses 4. Financial struggles C. How could the apostle Paul be happy in his chains? 1. How can we be happy in our? 2. Philippians 1:3-11 tells us to… DISCUSSION A. LOOK AT THE PAST WITH THANKSGIVING TO GOD (1:3-5) 1. Paul was able to be happy in chains because, when he looked at the past, he did so with thanksgiving a. Paul had probably been associated with the church at Philippi for 10 years, and he only had fond memories of that association b. Philippians 1:3-4 c. The double use of the “all” makes these verses amazing d. Paul looked for the good in all things - even though he had suffered mistreatment in Philippi 1 Thessalonians 2:2 2. Perhaps, when he looked back on the unpleasant events he saw the good that came from them a. Romans 8:28 b. His wrongful imprisonment resulted in the conversion of the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:16-34), and his being forced to leave town resulted in the preaching of the gospel in other places 3. Paul’s pleasant memories were focused on the Christians in Philippi a. They faithfully supported his work Philippians 1:5 1) “Fellowship” - κοινονια - to have in common 2) The word embraces the concepts of sharing and joint participation b. They supported Paul in work in various ways: 1) They prayed for him Philippians 1:19 2) Financial support Philippians 4:15-16 4. Paul could be happy in chains because he looked at the past with thanksgiving to God a. You and I can concentrate on the bad things that happen in our lives and end up bitter, or we can remember the good things, gives thanks to the Lord, and be happy b. Happiness is a choice B. LOOK AT THE PRESENT WITH CONFIDENCE IN GOD (1:6-8) 1. As Paul thought about the Christians in Philippi, he was flooded with emotions: “Love” was one of these emotions a. Philippians 1:7-8 b. Paul longs for them with all of his heart c. Paul loved them with the love that characterized the Lord 2. As Paul remembered his brothers and sisters in Christ, he was also filled with “confidence” a. Philippians 1:6 b. Paul was happy in chains because he was able to look at the present with confidence in God 1) He was not self-confident as much as he was God-confident 2) Philippians 2:13 c. Paul had seen God at work in Philippi, and he believed that the Lord deserved praise for every good thing that had been accomplished d. The confidence expressed by Paul was primarily because of who God was (and is), but his confidence was bolstered by who the Philippian Christians were - the kind of people in whom God could work. 1) God does not look for perfect people in whom to work; if He did, He would never work in anyone 2) Rather, He looks for those who will allow Him to work in their lives e. How does God work in our lives? 1) Through His word Hebrews 4:12 2) Through events in our lives James 1:2-3 3) Through people 2 Corinthians 7:6 3. What qualities permitted God to work in the lives of the Christians at Philippi? a. Philippians 1:7 1) Again, Paul uses the Greek work κοινονια, but this time it is translated “partaker” 2) He mentions three things he and these brethren have in common… b. They did not turn their back on him as other had when he was imprisoned c. They defended and confirmed the gospel when it was attacked 1) “Defense” - απολογια - meaning a verbal defense 2) “Confirmation” - has to do teaching and exhorting d. Regarding their fellowship “of grace,” Paul used “grace” (unmerited favor) to encompass all that he was and did 4. What ever our challenge is in life, we need to remember that, if we are faithful children of God, we do not have to face those challenges alone. a. Paul had confidence in his brethren b. Paul had confidence in the Almighty c. Ephesians 3:20 C. LOOK TO THE FUTURE WITH PRAYER TO GOD 1. Regarding what was ahead, he did not ignore the realities of life, he knew that the Philippians would continue to face challenges, as would he. 2. Philippians 1:9-11 a. Paul prayed that they would grow in love (αγαπη) 1) That it would abound 2) Always seek the best of another b. Paul prayed that they would grow in knowledge 1) Spiritual knowledge 2) Study is the key c. He prayed that they would grow in the ability to discern between right and wrong 1) This is closely connected to knowledge 2) It means perception and understanding d. Paul prayed that they would grow in Christian character 1) “Sincere and void of offence” 2) Sincere means judged by the sunlight (Lat. Without wax). e. Paul prayed that would grow in living fruitful lives 1) “Fruits of righteousness” 2) To bear the fruit of good works 3. To face the future with confidence we must live closer to the Lord each day and glorify Him in all things a. Prayer is a main component in this b. There is no better advice for those who are “in chains” than to take their eyes off themselves and fasten them on the Lord CONCLUSION A. What will your reaction be to the “chains of life”? 1. We can look at the past with misgiving or thanksgiving 2. We can look at the present with cowardice or confidence 3. We can look at the future with apprehension or prayer 4. We can rely on our strength, or we can rely on the strength of the Lord B. Which will be true of you?
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